Last Sunday I attended the Volunteer Orientation at FreeGeek Chicago for the first time in my life. I must say, WOW, that place has a whole lot of what I’m about. I can’t wait to go back there. Work has been keeping me busy on Fridays, so I’ll have to wait until I have a free Sunday. They are open Fridays and Sundays for Volunteer Orientation and just normal volunteering hours.

What people do there is recycle and repair computers. Two things that I care about. At FreeGeek, if a computer isn’t repairable, they “teardown” it, which really means “recycle it”. In which case, they take the different components of a motherboard, let’s say the onboard chips, the gold, the battery-like capacitors, actual batteries, plastic, etc, all that gets removed from the boards, sorted into bins, and then taken out to their respective recyclers. How cool is that?

Well, that’s not the only cool thing when you consider what else they do there…at FreeGeek, if a computer is too good to be recycled, they repair it and sell it for mad cheap on their storefront! I saw netbooks there for $40! Towers ranged from $40-100! Sometimes more! It really was quite cool seeing so much good use of old tech. I will come back there often to volunteer and help them repair their computers.

Another cool aspect of FreeGeek is the A+ training you pretty much get for free. What I mean by that is they will teach you pretty much everything you need to know to repair a computer. I’m talking troubleshooting, putting the danged thing together, installing software, troubleshooting issues, the works. And you will run into a lot of issues there. When I was there for just my orientation I saw about 12 people deep in thought, methodically debugging and troubleshooting their assigned machines. One woman I saw was so in the zone it looked like she was already thinking about what next could be causing the issue after she completed a test and replaced the older components back into her assigned machine.

This place is really cool. And I highly recommend anybody with any computer repair training or who wants to be trained to go attend a Volunteer Orientation and get working there. As a bonus, if you complete so-and-so hours of training, you can be admitted to the laptop repair training if you so desire. They sort of structure their repairing system in a hierarchy, and this laptop repair training is rightfully at the top since these components are usually smaller, and more expensive. They can’t have people muckin’ it up and rippin’ RAM out the wrong way! But seriously, very cool.

Very cool. Very cheap. FreeGeek.

*FreeGeek not officially valid for training in A+ certification, but it is an excellent and free start

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